Let teachers carry books to class  and cops carry guns to the street!

Let teachers carry books to class and cops carry guns to the street!

A teacher is an educator who is professionally trained to teach and educate students. The primary role of a teacher is not to ensure the physical safety of his or her students, but to teach. While teachers are also expected to ensure the safety of their students, but it is always through the instrument of language and the display of their moral virtues and exemplary character in the classroom, as well as through the modeling to students human dignity, mutual respect, tolerance, good citizenship, and common understanding.

The School of Education does not provide instructions to teachers on firearms or how to handle guns; by contrast, it is the duty of the Police Academy to fulfill this objective to those who are called to the Police Force or armed forces.

In the same line of thought, a school counselor advises his or her students; a physician or nurse provides medical care and healing to his or her patient; an attorney provides legal advice to his or her clients; a minister nourishes the soul of his or her congregation; and a mechanic fixes automobiles. None of these professionals is expected to render adequate and satisfactory service (in his or her respective discipline) to his or her customers, clients, patients by bearing a protective firearm.

A teacher is not a police officer or a security guard. To suggest that a teacher should carry a firearm to the classroom just in case of a potential threat of death or mass shooting in schools contradicts the philosophy of teaching and the core values and goals of education. This is an unethical demand!

Let teachers carry books and cops carry guns!

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America’s Children and The Memory of Tomorrow

“America’s Children and The Memory of Tomorrow”

What kind of memory this country is constructing for the children and youth of this generation?

We’re raising children today who will become the adults of (America’s) tomorrow, whose childhood in contemporary American life is masked by tragic fear, terror, and gun violence. Our contemporary children are the memory of tomorrow. What will they remember about their America?

They will remember their American childhood as a zone of death and a country that did not care about the life of its children and the preservation of human life.

They will remember their American schools, theaters, churches, temples, social clubs, marketplaces, and any meeting place as unsafe places for them, family members, their classmates or friends.

They will remember America as the country in which places of sanctuary, refuge or shelter were rare to find or did not exist in their childhood.

They will remember America as a nation that shuts its heart to the suffering and pain of its children, and where life is cold and sour. 

If Washington politicians and lawmakers do not respond promptly, responsibly, and humanly to the million cries and heartaches of this nation’s youth about the culture of gun violence and police brutality, their silence and inaction will indicate that they do not care about this country’s future and are not interested in promoting a culture of life and human dignity in contemporary American society.

 

What a tragic life and traumatic legacy our children today will inherit tomorrow?

What a devastating mental scar that will mark permanently their American experience as both children and adults!

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”— Jeremiah 31:15

“When Human Life Becomes More Vulnerable  and Prayer is not Enough”

“When Human Life Becomes More Vulnerable and Prayer is not Enough”

As a father of three children who are students in Elementary, Middle, and High school, I’m always concerned about the safety of my children and those of other parents. Unfortunately, one never knows for certain if one’s child or the neighbor’s child will come home safely.

The gun crisis in our culture makes life more vulnerable and death more urgent. I do not believe prayer is the sole solution to this cultural tragedy we’re currently facing as a country and people. We can’t just depend on our collective prayers to solve this human dilemma in our culture. Some individuals in our society use prayer as a smokescreen to refrain from taking responsible (legal) actions. It’s probably incorrect to state that gun violence has increased in our society because we removed God and prayer in the classroom. It is also not true to argue that the cause of the gun dilemma is the result of the American society moving more towards the left or it becoming more secular. Recent research on gun laws and individual freedom in other Western countries contradict this thesis. Perhaps, our problem is that our lawmakers and the institutions that support light and flexible gun control laws prioritize money and ideology over (the sacredness of) human life.

The gun crisis in our culture is a moral problem that urges us as a people to take ethical actions for the preservation of life. We must hold our legislators acountable to pass stricter gun laws to safeguard life in this country, and enforce more life-centered regulations in the ownership and selling of weapons. Similarly, we must pressure our lawmakers to act morally and ethically when making political and legal decisions about gun laws and ownership behind closed doors.

America’s Children and The Memory of Tomorrow

What kind of memory this country is constructing for the children and youth of this generation?

We’re raising children today who will become the adults of (America’s) tomorrow, whose childhood in contemporary American life is masked by tragic fear, terror, and gun violence. Our contemporary children are the memory of tomorrow. What will they remember about their America?

They will remember their American childhood as a zone of death and a country that did not care about the life of its children and the preservation of human life.

They will remember their American schools, theaters, churches, temples, social clubs, marketplaces, and any meeting place as unsafe places for them, family members, their classmates or friends.

They will remember America as the country in which places of sanctuary, refuge or shelter were rare to find or did not exist in their childhood.

They will remember America as a nation that shuts its heart to the suffering and pain of its children, and where life is cold and sour.

What a tragic life and traumatic legacy our children today will inherit tomorrow?

What a devastating mental scar that will mark permanently their American experience as both children and adults!

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”— Jeremiah 31:15

“When German Christians Were Silent: A Plea to American Christians to Consider the Plot of  the  DACA, DREAMERS, and the Refugee and Immigrant Families”

“When German Christians Were Silent: A Plea to American Christians to Consider the Plot of the DACA, DREAMERS, and the Refugee and Immigrant Families”

I’m very concerned about the attitude of the current American administration and American Christianity toward the individuals and families that fall under the category of DACA, Dreamers, and (illegal) Immigrants.

I’m worried about their current and future state in this country because they’re being mistreated and dehumanized by the current administration; I’m also worried because of the dreadful silence of American Christians and American Evangelicals concerning the plot and status of this group of individuals and families. My fear is that the United States is progressively becoming a fascist state. I’m also worried that a lot of cruel things that happened to the Jews in Germany in the first half of the twentieth-century, especially in the 1940s, could potentially happen in America and to the so-called illegal and undocumented people and families.

The Jews were considered illegal people in Germany; they were also accused of taking German jobs, elevating poverty and hunger in Germany, and increasing unemployment and crime rates in Germany. The Jewish people were also portrayed as criminals, murderers, thieves, lazy, unpatriotic, and anti-German. The Jews were the victims of an unjust and racist system.

Unfortunately, the majority of the German Christian population of that historical era was silent on the suffering and mistreatment of the Jews. As a result, Jews were ridiculed, dehumanized, humiliated, expelled from Germany, tortured, executed, and eventually, they became victims of one of the greatest human genocides in the first half of the twentieth-century. The Jewish genocide happened because many German Christians unashamedly supported the public policies of the German state, and many of them were fervent Natzis. Jews in Germany not only suffered mass deportation to countries they have not known or even visited. Jewish families were separated from each other because of unjust and inhumane immigration policies and anti-Semitism.

I hope American Christians of all denominational expressions and correspondingly Evangelical Christians would muster up their courage to speak out against the current xenophobia, forced deportation, and sinful actions of this present administration against immigrant families, the DACA, and dreamers, and the so-called illegal people. Not only this group of individuals are suffering; the lives of their American friends, co-workers, classmates, and individuals of the same church have forever transformed. They sympathize with them and mourn over their situation. They’re also worried about the future.

I’m worried about the silence of American Christians on these moral and ethical issues. I pray we won’t follow the footsteps of the German Christians in the time of Hitler and the Jewish Holocaust. May God grant us the zeal, passion, boldness, and Christ’s love to fight for those who are weak and vulnerable!

God has commanded his people and the church to speak out on matters of justice and injustice, human oppression, socio-political issues, economic matters, and power dynamics and relations in our culture; as Walter Brueggermann affirms,

“The church has a huge stake in breaking the silence, because the God of the Bible characteristically appears at the margins of established power arrangements, whether theological or socioeconomic and political.”

I’m asking American Christians to take a stand on these moral issues because American Evangelicals are a powerful group of individuals whose influence extends to the sphere of American politics and public policies.

I’m asking American Christians to take a stand on these urgent issues because love and compassion are greater than xenophobia and racism.

I’m asking American Christians to speak against the injustice in the American Immigration policies and laws because they target a particular group of people and racial groups, the non-European and brown individuals and families.

I’m asking followers of Christ to counter the evil and injustice in our political system because the Christian God is a Good of justice and of the biblical mandate to practice justice in public, to show hospitality to strangers and immigrants, and to fight for the cause of the oppressed, the poor, and underprivileged families and individuals. This is what the message of the Gospel looks like in practice and action. The cause of (American) patriotism and nationalism is not greater than the cause of the Gospel and the divine call to embrace and love the weak.

Let us show kindness and compassion to this group of individuals and families.

Let us be the Salt of the earth and Light of the world that Christ has called to be.

Let us embody the message of the Gospel in our moral choices, everyday decision, and action.

Let the world see we are truly Christ’s disciples and followers by supporting his values and walking in the light.

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?

39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
–Matthew 25:35-40

*** I know some of you friends will find some of my words in this post too strong or will say that the American context and the German context are not the same. Whatever your position is on these important matters, remember that all human life is sacred before God and that people regardless of their cultural, racial, ethnic, and linguistic background, and immigration status need to be treated like humans. All people have human and natural rights, and their basic rights to live and to be free need to be protected and maintained.

Furthermore, on a personal note, I immigrated to the United States when I was 15 yrs old. I came to this country legally and with my proper documents issued by the U.S. Immigration. After living in the states for 7 yrs, I became a naturalized American citizen. I’m going to turn 40 yrs old in March this year and have spent more time (24 yrs to be exact) in the U.S. than the country of my birth. My now deceased father, who came to the United States in 1979, did not have the proper documents, approved by the U.S. Immigration, at his arrival. I was only one yr old when he immigrated to the States. After several years of hard work, he was able to obtain gradually a work permit, resident card, and eventually became a naturalized American citizen. He used the benefits and advantages of his U.S.citizenship to bring legally his seven children and wife to the United States. If I remember correctly, the entire process to get us in the states was close to 10 years from the time my father petitioned for us.

A Few Words of Observations Among Christian Academics and Thinkers Engaged in Public Discourse

“A Few Words of Observations Among Christian Academics and Thinkers Engaged in Public Discourse”

More recently, I have observed an ongoing trend among Christian academics in America that is detrimental to Christian witness in public, Christian unity and alliance, and the solidarity all Christians share in Christ. Many of contenporary influential Christian thinkers and scholars, who write for the popular (church) audience, do not know how to have constructive and Christ-honoring conversations with each other in public and via social media outlets.

If one among them made a mistake (i.e. in interpreting the Scripture or a cultural issue) in public through a published article, Op-ed, or a talk, the common tendency among these Christian thinkers or Christian academic community is to shame each other in public so certain individuals could show that the other party is wrong and they are right.

Unfortunately, the end of these public discourses or conversations is never about correcting the other brother or sister so that this individual could become more mature spiritually, relationally, and intellectually or is it ever about cultivating healthy Christian friendship and relationship, and robust and Christ-like discipleship in the body of Christ. The focus is much on the self and defending the self, the ego, and it’s not on Christ or for the betterment of the sister or brother at fault.

Perhaps, we should ask this question: is this a trait that Christian academics and thinkers inherited from the academic and scholarly world? Even if this is the case, as Apostle Paul exhorts the Christian community in Galatia, “This is not the way you’ve learned Christ,” and how to relate to each other. This particular behavior toward the other individual is not Christ-like and does not lift up the other party; it brings dishonor to the members of the Christian community .

The goal of the other party is unfortunately to show off his or her academic pedigree and vast knowledge in matters relating to interpreting cultural ideas and concepts and understanding the Bible in light of these pertinent matters, and the application of the Biblical text to everyday life experience and decision-making. This is not the way of Christ nor is it the way of biblical wisdom and understanding appropriating to the love for God and correspondingly, the love for the (Christian) neighbor.

As a result, the Christian community in Anerica is becoming more divided and a hostile group or environment; it’s drifting away from being a coherent, relational, and supporting community of faith. The ensuing result is unfortunately the promotion of Christian tribalism and group exceptionalism.

We need to exercise more grace and gentleness and just a little more tolerance and patience toward each other as we exchange ideas and engage in biblical hermeneutics about life issues and theological matters.

May God help us to seek his wisdom and understanding on matters of faith and life, and teach us how to appreciate each other!

To Have Christ is Life!

Some Random Thoughts

1. To give one’s life away to Christ and for his sake is never a sacrifice or a loss.

This act of self-giving leads to the process of participating and delighting in the saving life and knowledge of Christ.

Jesus Christ is sinners’ friend. His kindness has no bound.

2. Yahweh is King forever!

Empires come, flourish, conquer, and fall. If you don’t believe me, pick up a good history book on the ancient world and civilizations. The empires of this age will not last, but God’s kingdom will not be conquered or destroyed.

Some nation-states and people rely in the power of their missiles, bombs, and the glory of their military forces, but we will trust in the strength, might, and intervention of Yahweh our God!

3. Yahweh, the Sovereign Lord

The biblical God and writers did in fact acknowledge the existence of other gods. However, the God (Yahweh) of the Bible declared that they were not true gods because they were made with human hands, that is they were human invention and subject to weakness. The human-made gods, according to the biblical witness, are also idols. By contrast, Yahweh presents himself as the sole Creator of heavens and the earth, and as the cosmic un-created Deity and the sovereign Ruler of the universe and human history, and no idol or god can threaten his plans or stop his hands.

Rest assured that Yahweh has total control over human history and the gods and demon forces in this world; correspondingly, he knows every detail of your life. He will bring you out of the labyrinth of pain, despair, desolation, and death.

4. The problem in contemporary American Christianity is not a lack of the knowledge of God, but the implications of knowing God truly and genuinely relating to practical matters of life such as justice, love, hospitality, and care for the poor and the refugees/immigrants.

5. God has not overlooked and bypassed any ethnic group, tribe, language, race, nation, or people in the meganarratives of or in the smallest detail in human history. God has worked through human cultures and traditions to make his name known to his creation and people.

The biblical God is not a silent or an absent Deity in global history, but a God who speaks, communicates, and reveals Himself, his salvation, grace, goodness, and knowledge to the world.

“I am sick, but I long to write about the things that matter to me”

“I am sick, but I long to write about the things that matter to me”
I’m home. I’m sick. I have the flu. I am physically weak. Nonetheless, I’m thinking about a billion things to do and write about including the following:
1. Ephesians Chapter 2 (Research, Write, and Teach)
2. A new co-edited book with Dr. Bertin Louis on Protestant Christianity in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora.
3. A new co-edited book with Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul on Joseph Antenor Firmin
4. A new essay on the most influential and important African Christian theologian in the second-half of the twentieth century: Kwame Bediako of Ghana.
5. The relationship between theology and history in Christianity.
*** Despite their ideological differences and the seemingly opposing methodologies experts and specialists in both academic disciplines employ for research and thinking, theology and history share many elements in common.
Some people say history deals with “hard facts,” whereas theology deals with “human imagination and speculation.” (Interestingly, both fields of study require a great deal of intellectual imagination.) History may take us back to a particular moment in history, which may occur in a specific geographical location; for example, the United States of America militarily occupied Haiti, from 1915 to 1934. Barack Hussein Obama II was elected twice as the 44th President of the United States,
January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017. He was succeeded by President Donald John Trump, January 20, 2017 to the Present.
Theology is a particular fact in the Christian imagination; for example, God is trinity is a conceptual fact in the Christian faith. Jesus is God is a non-negotiable fact in Orthodoxy Christianity. Jesus is Messiah-King and Savior of the world is a conceptual fact in Christianity. Interestingly and paradoxically, both the notion of fact and reality could be applied to the disciples of theology and history–depending on how one conceptualizes history and theology.
On the other hand, theology should not be understood deliberately as “historical fact” in the sense that historians define it. It is a different category of reality one can frame as “conceptual fact” or “theoretical reality.”
Here are some of the things I jotted down today while trying to keep myself intellectually energized in the midst of a terrible flu and constant sneezing:
Theology Vs. History in Christianity
A. History
• Christianity is a historical religion; to call Christianity a historical religion means that it has a beginning and that it began in a specific historical era at a specific geographical place in human history. For example, the Christian religion began in the first century in the Greco-Roman world.
• The founder of Christianity is an individual called Yeshua or Jesus; he is also called Jesus of Nazareth to indicate the historical place of his origin.
• The first four books (i.e. Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke, and Gospel of John) in the New Testament are called “Gospels,” which simply means good news. These four books were written by historical persons (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) who were either disciples of Jesus or disciples of Jesus’ disciples.
B. Theology
• God is Trinity and exists as God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
• Jesus is the Son of God, Israel King, and Savior of the World.
• Jesus is God-incarnate in the human flesh.
• Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world and grants salvation to anyone who accepts his sacrificial atonement as a gift.
**** This is an ongoing conversation and thought-process….